by L. Michael Morales
Series: New Studies in Biblical Theology, #37Paperback, 306 pg.
IVP Academic, 2015
Read: October 16 – November 27, 2016
So this is another one of those books that I’m not really qualified to talk about, but . . . whoops, here I go.
Morales doesn’t give us what you typically find/look for in a study of Leviticus — detailed explanations — or dodges — of the various purity laws and other commands and regulations contained in it. Instead, he begins by explaining his conclusion that Leviticus is the center of the Pentateuch, and that Chapter 16 is the center of it. Beginning in Genesis, everything is leading up to the Day of Atonement, and then everything from that is to be seen as the result of, or in light of that day.
That’s a lousy summary, but that’s the best you’re going to get from me in a couple of sentences. The argument is so detailed, so complex that I can’t really do much better without spending a few pages on it — and no one wants to read that (especially since you can read Morales doing a better job). At first, I thought that it was an interesting idea, but it really didn’t matter much. But as I read on and understood what he was doing better, it started to capture my imagination and draw me in. This was well argued, well researched — and well explained for even non-technical types like me.
But when it comes to Biblical Theology, the proof in the pudding comes from tying in his theses to the unfolding story of redemption — first in Israel’s story and then showing how it leads to Christ and His work on earth, His Ascension and pouring out of His Spirit to prepare a people to meet with Him on Mount Zion. The last two chapters were fantastic — and I’m going to have to reread them a few times to really wrap my brain around it all. There were moments of beauty here — it’s hard for an academically-inclined work to inspire and touch the emotions of a reader, but Morales did it.
This volume is the first I’ve read in New Studies in Biblical Theology (I believe it’s the first I heard of it, too) — the series is edited by D. A. Carson. The series aims “to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead. . . While volume notes interact with the best of recent research, the text of each work avoids untransliterated Greek and Hebrew or too much specialist jargon. The volumes are written within the framework of confessional evangelicalism, but they also engage a variety of other relevant viewpoints and significant literature.” If this is a representative volume, it won’t be my last in the series. If I can just pick another — the list of 41 is daunting — just too many choices.
Anyway, Who Shall Ascend was a challenging, interesting, educational and inspiring work — there’s not much more that you can ask for. If you’re up for the work, I heartily recommend it.